Curious creatures they may be, but an infestation of silverfish can cause a serious pest control problem for commercial and residential properties alike.
Silverfish are tiny wingless bugs which mainly inhabit warm humid environments such as bathrooms. They prefer the dark and damp, and are predominantly nocturnal which – combined with their rapid movement – means a silverfish infestation can go unnoticed for some time.
Silverfish get their name from their teardrop shape, blue-silver scales, and the wiggling motion of their movement. Whilst only around 20mm in length, these tiny creatures may seem harmless enough however, they can cause serious damage to plaster walls, books, paintings, photographs and household items that contain starch or cellulose – as they feed on carbohydrates.
Silverfish are rapid breeders and can lay up to 20 eggs each day once their cycle has begun. It is therefore important to identify and treat an infestation of these creatures as soon as possible.
The easiest way to identify a silverfish infestation is by seeing them with your own eyes. As they are nocturnal, this is most likely to happen if you go to the toilet at night, or when having a pre-bedtime bath or shower. If you are seeing them regularly, it probably means there are already quite a lot hidden away.
Small holes and scrapes in books, magazines, and other paper based products can also indicate a silverfish infestation. You should especially keep an eye on wallpaper for any signs of consumption as they eat wallpaper paste and glue. Silverfish can also leave yellow stains on synthetic fibres, so if any of your clothes are marked, you may have an issue.
While silverfish may prefer humid environments such as bathrooms, they can often be found in kitchens as well. Check any containers of cereal, pasta, or rice, as they are drawn to the starchy foods inside.
Now you have identified a possible infestation of silverfish, you are no doubt looking for some pest control advice on how to tackle the problem. Thankfully there are a few practical and humane steps you can take to dissuade the pests from hanging around, using a little knowledge and a few everyday products you probably already own.
Prevention is the best cure, so try and make your home as unattractive to the pests as possible. Thoroughly ventilate your bathroom each time you shower or bathe to reduce the humidity. The best tactic is to open the window while you are still in the shower, as this helps prevent the steam from turning into condensations on the walls.
Silverfish are also shy creatures, so reduce the amount of junk or clutter you have lying around to give them fewer places to hide. Regular and thorough vacuuming – especially in often ignored nooks and crannies will further reduce the number of places bugs can nest undisturbed.
Like most insects, silverfish hate strong smells. Lemon and lavender makes a particularly potent combination, so spray some diluted oils around trouble areas to drive them away. Strong smelling spices such as cinnamon or cloves will also drive silverfish away – so place them strategically to keep them at bay. Cedarwood shavings can deter silverfish and may be deployed in the same fashion.
You can also roll up a newspaper and dampen it under a tap to create a makeshift trap. The silverfish will be attracted into the damp folds at night, and you simply need throw them outside in the morning. Applying masking tape to the outside of a jam jar and placing some bread inside is another way of containing the pests. The traction afforded by the tape will allow the bugs to climb in, but the smooth glass on the inside will prevent their escape.
It may be the infestation is simply too severe for the above solutions to be effective however. In this case, there are many commercially available pesticide sprays and solutions which will effectively eliminate the pests. Traps laced with insect killing chemicals are also available.
Boric acid will kill silverfish and their eggs – as well as most insects – but is highly toxic to all other living things as well. You can lay it in troubled areas overnight and vacuum it up in the morning. However, you should handle the substance with great care by wearing suitable gloves and a dust mask. You must always seek immediate medical advice for any adult, child, or pet who inhales it.
Boric acid – and many other pesticide chemicals – can be difficult and hazardous to use. If you have any doubts, or simply want to consult a professional the moment you discover an infestation of silverfish, Safeguard Pest Control has over 30 years’ experience in the pest control business.
Please get in touch today and one of our friendly staff will be happy to advise you.